After saying this, what can we add? If God is for us, who can be against us?Since he did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for the sake of all of us, then can we not expect that with him he will freely give us all his gifts? Who can bring any accusation against those that God has chosen? When God grants saving justice who can condemn? Are we not sure that it is Christ Jesus, who died – yes and more, who was raised from the dead and is at God’s right hand – and who is adding his plea for us?
Through towns and villages he went teaching, making his way to Jerusalem. Someone said to him, ‘Sir, will there be only a few saved?’ He said to them, Try your hardest to enter by the narrow door, because, I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed. Once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you may find yourself standing outside knocking on the door, saying, “Lord, open to us,” but he will answer, “I do not know where you come from.”
This issue will always be addressed, because fasting is an important part of spiritual and ascetic life. In our Catholic Church, as we know, it has almost completely disappeared and is only practiced by individual people who perceive a call of the Spirit to integrate fasting into their lives. It is better in Orthodox Christianity, who know fasting before the holy liturgy and also practice physical fasting in various ways. Fasting is almost unknown to the Protestants, at most that individual persons take it up.
He spoke the following parable to some people who prided themselves on being upright and despised everyone else, ‘Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood there and said this prayer to himself, “I thank you, God, that I am not grasping, unjust, adulterous like everyone else, and particularly that I am not like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all I get.”
Thus, condemnation will never come to those who are in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit which gives life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. What the Law could not do because of the weakness of human nature, God did, sending his own Son in the same human nature as any sinner to be a sacrifice for sin, and condemning sin in that human nature. This was so that the Law’s requirements might be fully satisfied in us as we direct our lives not by our natural inclinations but by the Spirit.
And really, I know of nothing good living in me — in my natural self, that is — for though the will to do what is good is in me, the power to do it is not: the good thing I want to do, I never do; the evil thing which I do not want — that is what I do. But every time I do what I do not want to, then it is not myself acting, but the sin that lives in me. So I find this rule: that for me, where I want to do nothing but good, evil is close at my side.
I am putting it in human terms because you are still weak human beings: as once you surrendered yourselves as servants to immorality and to a lawlessness which results in more lawlessness, now you have to surrender yourselves to uprightness which is to result in sanctification. When you were the servants of sin, you felt no obligation to uprightness, and what did you gain from living like that?
That is why you must not allow sin to reign over your mortal bodies and make you obey their desires; or give any parts of your bodies over to sin to be used as instruments of evil. Instead, give yourselves to God, as people brought to life from the dead, and give every part of your bodies to God to be instruments of uprightness; and then sin will no longer have any power over you — you are living not under law, but under grace. What is the implication?
See that you have your belts done up and your lamps lit. Be like people waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast, ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. In truth I tell you, he will do up his belt, sit them down at table and wait on them. It may be in the second watch that he comes, or in the third, but blessed are those servants if he finds them ready.Read More